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An Experiment on the Nonbreaking Surface-Wave-Induced Vertical Mixing

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  • 1 First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Qingdao, China
  • | 2 Institute of Hydroengineering, Polish Academy of Sciences, Gdańsk, Poland
  • | 3 First Institute of Oceanography, State Oceanic Administration, Qingdao, China
  • | 4 Swinburne University of Technology, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
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Abstract

Mixing induced by nonbreaking surface waves was investigated in a wave tank by measuring the thermal destratification rate of the water column. One experiment without waves and four experiments with waves of amplitudes ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 cm and wavelength from 30 to 75 cm were conducted. Water temperature variations at depths from 4 to 12 cm below the surface were measured. In the layer from 4 to 7 cm, the originally dense isothermal lines disperse soon after the waves are generated, whereas the vertical gradient from 9 to 12 cm is maintained for a relatively long time. The time span, during which the water temperature becomes well mixed, changes from about 20 h for the case with no waves to tens of minutes for the case with waves, and it decreases with increasing wave amplitude and wavelength. A one-dimensional diffusion numerical model with wave-induced mixing parameterization shows consistent results with the measurement. The study demonstrates that the mixing induced by nonbreaking waves may add an important contribution to the vertical mixing process in the upper ocean and suggests a way to parameterize wave-induced mixing in numerical ocean models.

Corresponding author address: Fangli Qiao, Key Laboratory of Marine Science and Numerical Modeling, First Institute of Oceanography, 6 Xianxialing Road, Qingdao 266061, China. Email: qiaofl@fio.org.cn

Abstract

Mixing induced by nonbreaking surface waves was investigated in a wave tank by measuring the thermal destratification rate of the water column. One experiment without waves and four experiments with waves of amplitudes ranging from 1.0 to 1.5 cm and wavelength from 30 to 75 cm were conducted. Water temperature variations at depths from 4 to 12 cm below the surface were measured. In the layer from 4 to 7 cm, the originally dense isothermal lines disperse soon after the waves are generated, whereas the vertical gradient from 9 to 12 cm is maintained for a relatively long time. The time span, during which the water temperature becomes well mixed, changes from about 20 h for the case with no waves to tens of minutes for the case with waves, and it decreases with increasing wave amplitude and wavelength. A one-dimensional diffusion numerical model with wave-induced mixing parameterization shows consistent results with the measurement. The study demonstrates that the mixing induced by nonbreaking waves may add an important contribution to the vertical mixing process in the upper ocean and suggests a way to parameterize wave-induced mixing in numerical ocean models.

Corresponding author address: Fangli Qiao, Key Laboratory of Marine Science and Numerical Modeling, First Institute of Oceanography, 6 Xianxialing Road, Qingdao 266061, China. Email: qiaofl@fio.org.cn

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